It’s no secret that physician practices are challenged more than ever to get paid in full for the services they render. Deductibles keep getting higher – and more patients are facing them. What’s more, new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that only about half of insured American families have sufficient resources available to meet a $2,500 deductible with cash.
Beyond the financial strain of higher deductibles, there is the ongoing confusion about how they work – confusion that stubbornly persists, even though these types of plans have become more typical. And what happens when people receive bills that confuse them – or are unexpected? Naturally, there’s a good chance the bill could be incorrect – which in turn may make them much less likely to pay it.
What does it all mean for medical practices? Above all, it’s important to help patients understand their health plans, and to make it easy for patients to pay.
These tasks have not proven to be easy, but help is on the way from a source you might not instinctively rely on: technology. There is such an evident need for tools to help both consumers and healthcare organizations wrestle the confusion created by health plan complexity, technology vendors have been innovating at a furious pace to create solutions – and many of the things they’ve come up with are very promising.
Now … I hope none of you stopped reading because I used the dreaded “T” word! For some of you, the upheaval of EMR conversion is still top-of-mind. If that’s your situation, it may be hard to imagine technology as a true friend of the medical practice. But there are some key differences in this new wave of healthcare technology, including:
- It’s driven by patient needs and practice needs – not a federal mandate. These companies must perform to earn your business! There’s no MU payment to hide behind;
- New technologies are easier to implement – some are simply apps and websites your patients can use for payment. These familiar interfaces will attract patients and make it easier for them to understand their plans – and pay;
- These tech vendors are working with payers, too — so that they can get the right information into your hands and the patient’s reliably;
- There’s no need to select just one. Many of these technologies play well together, so that you can offer many access points to satisfy patient preferences.
Technology – market-driven innovation – has the potential to solve many problems your practice and help you be more profitable and efficient. Really!
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